At the beginning of this year, I never had plans of keeping score on the marquee bouts in boxing and mixed martial arts, just like I did in 2015 where the score was 3-0 in favor of MMA.
A marquee fight to me is one that ends in an upset, ends dramatically or is an unexpected close contest. And preferably, the marquee bouts have a championship at stake.
So on March 6 this year, MMA made it 2-0 over boxing after Meisha Tate submitted Holly Holm and Nick Diaz defeated Connor McGregor. Of the two, it was how McGregor turned the tide against Diaz to eventually humble the Irish that was more talked about (I might be wrong with that).
Before Diaz and McGregor squared off, the Irish looked almost invincible and brought to the Octagon an impressive record of 19-3 with 17 knockouts and one submission, while Diaz was 27-9 with 13 KOS and eight submissions.
McGregor was climbing one weight class higher to welterweight (170 pounds in MMA) and naturally, some skeptics thought that was a risky move because of the 15-pound weight jump from lightweight (155 pounds in MMA).
Although Diaz was the bigger fighter at 6’2” to the 5’9” McGregor, the Irish was dominant with his strikes from the opening bell, even bloodying the face of Diaz before the bell ended.
In the early going in the second round, it looked like it was just a matter of time McGregor would be able to dispatch his opponent with a stoppage win, but Diaz began sneaking in his punches that started to hurt the Irish. The fight ended with McGregor tapping out as Diaz tightened his choke on the Irish.
While there were quarters who believed prior to the fight that Diaz would have a chance to beat McGregor given that Diaz is a “natural” welterweight, the dominant showing of the Irish in the first round made it hard to imagine if Diaz could turn things around in the next round. But Diaz was able to turn the tide in the second round despite getting bloodied, and eventually made McGregor tap out.
That was a major upset.
In the bout that preceded the main event, Tate, a two-time knockout victim of Ronda Rousey, choked out Holm who holds a knockout win over Rousey. During the run-up to the fight, Holm was highly favored to win over Tate. Holm also entered the fight undefeated at 10-0 with seven KOs while Tate was 19-5 with three KOs and seven submissions.
Those who predicted Holm to win over Tate must have adhered to the argument that “if fighter A beats fighter B and if fighter A gets beaten by fighter C, then fighter C will easily beat fighter B.” In the case of Tate, he lost twice by knockout to Rousey, particularly in the first round on March 3, 2012 and in the third round on December 28, 2013. And we all know now how Holm stopped Rousey in the first round on November 15, 2015.
So it’s 2-0 in favor of MMA and I hope it won’t be 3-0, 4-0 or even 5-0 in by the end of the year.
Boxing not producing real marquee bouts in two years would be pathetic because there are many pugilists today who are exciting in the ring. So it’s actually 5-0 now in favor of MMA since the beginning of 2015. Don’t punch me for saying that.